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[Editorial] North Korea Policy Should Be Based on the Principle of Reciprocity

[Editorial] North Korea Policy Should Be Based on the Principle of Reciprocity

Posted December. 04, 2002 22:42,   


Grand National Party candidate Lee Hoi-chang and Millennium Democratic Party candidate Roh Moo-hyun showed a big difference in their policies toward North Korea in the first television debate. Korean voters reconfirmed the fact that their differences will not be narrowed. Polices toward the North is a critical and sensitive issue because the fortune of Korea is at stake. At this critical juncture, we would like to present our position on the policy toward the North.

President Kim Dae-jung’s Sunshine policy of engaging North Korea has resulted in both positive and negative outcomes. The positive outcomes include the historical summit meeting between the two Koreas, the ongoing landmine-eliminating operations in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) to reconnect inter-Korean railways and reduced tensions on the Korean Peninsula, sharply lowering the possibility of the outbreak of a war.

However, it is true there is a wide criticism over the results of the sunshine policy, saying such outcomes were induced by the Korean government’s lopsided economic support for North Korea. Worse, the horrible truth has been found that the essence of the North Koran regime will not change in the wake of its admission of the ongoing nuclear weapons programs. That is a decisive material evidence that the Sunshine policy has a grave drawback. At this moment, anyone can not say there is reliable mutual trust between Seoul and Pyongyang.

Less progress has been made in the inter-Korean relations than expected so far mainly because the South Korean government failed to raise its voices in dealing with the inter-Korean issues based on the principle of reciprocity. It is wrong to believe that securing peace on the Korean Peninsula will be possible only through “carrots and dialogue” by giving lopsided aid to Pyongyang even though there has been no sign of the change in its attitude. If the North Korea policy is aimed at engaging the North to open its door to the outside world and helping it to be a responsible member in the international community, the government should have put more pressure on the North to sincerely deliver its promises to the South.

Therefore, a new government should restart North Korea policies by beginning with a better understanding of the essence of the regime. In particular, a new government should have in mind that it will objectively evaluate the fundamental change in the North based on the principle of reciprocity and verification that the Kim Dae-jung government failed to follow and whether the North will keep its words. And then building a sincere confidence between the South and the North can be possible. If a new government thinks it can resolve inter-Korean issues only by offering “carrots” to Pyongyang, the Sunshine policy will highlight only negative aspects.